HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Most days you’ll find Heather sitting at her piano in the front window of her east-end home in Toronto writing a song or rehearsing for a gig that showcases her original singer-songwriter music. Rooted in piano pop/rock, her sound has been said to have the percussive quality of Fiona Apple or Tori Amos and vocal phrasing sensibilities of Kate Bush, with a songwriting style of early Leonard Cohen.
Heather is just releasing her first FACTOR-funded song called “Stupid Happy” in May 2014. She wanted to release this song with her first “real” video since the song was begging for a visual representation. On the heals of this project, Heather has been busy co-writing/performing with other artists, working on her third album, sourcing music for the Positive Music Imperative, running a local Toronto Songwriting Guild, participating in the One Fire Movement, and running a healthy snack program at the local school.
With the release of her second album, Leuty Station (May 2012), to a packed house at the Drake Hotel in Toronto, she quickly followed the success of the launch with a Canadian tour which included opening for an acoustic Treble Charger show and receiving a variety of media attention from CFRB In the Studio, Rogers Daytime Toronto, CBC Radio1, reviews and local features. This album featured songs that speak to facing life’s challenges head-on; a recurring theme is how women make it through life’s trials with strength and grace. This album delivers songs that are truthful and offer empowerment and encouragement; no matter what the subject, she finds optimism.
“Heather Hill’s Leuty Station is a remarkable and beautiful sounding disc. With strong vocals, imaginative words, music with hooks, expansive arrangements, and sometimes epic production, she presents an interesting strong female image lyrically” Blair Packham from CFRB radio “In the Studio”.
She loves creating and sharing her music, so it’s difficult to imagine that a decade ago Heather was on a completely different path. She had a high-flying career in the tech sector. She was working as the vice-president of business development for an incubator of software companies. While the job was exciting, the constant business travel and endless hours were taking a toll on Heather’s health and well being. “I had forgotten who I was, and what I loved to do…write and perform music.”
In 2003, she walked away from it all.
“Heather Hill is not only an incredibly talented musician, who weaves beautiful stories into music, she is an inspiration to her fellow artists. Leaving the corporate world to pursue her dream as an artist is both brave and terrifying and you can feel the power of her love for her chosen profession in each and every song”. ~ Indie Lipstik Review
She quit her job, sold her belongings and went backpacking through New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia and south-east Asia. What Heather craved was freedom to pursue her musical passion. Not classical music, which she had studied from the age of four. With the rigors of daily practice and competitions, she earned her piano performance degree at 18 from the Royal Conservatory of Music. But she turned down a music scholarship to pursue an English degree at the University of Waterloo. Once on the career track, she earned her MA, her MBA part-time, and successfully climbed the corporate ladder in product marketing.
Upon her return to Toronto after her travels, Heather began studying songwriting with highly regarded composer/musician/vocal instructor Orville Heyn at Humber College. She moved to New York the same year and continued to hone her craft, taking songwriting classes at the Gotham Writers, Mannes College and NYU. She also studied with Ann Ruckert, a renowned music industry coach/singer/composer, who developed her musicianship further.
By 2004, Heather was ready to launch her new career. Ann introduced Heather to Steve Addabbo of Shelter Island Sound (Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin), who produced Heather’s debut album, Listen (2005). Many of Heather’s previous career and life experiences – quitting her job, traveling, living in NY – informed the songs on her first album. In addition to releasing her album, Heather also played in a variety of clubs in New York and got her first cut in an off-Broadway show compilation.
Her personal life was blossoming as well. She got married, had her first child and decided to return to Toronto to be closer to her family and have another baby. Heather has continued to perform and write songs while nurturing deep ties to the local songwriting community. With the release of Leuty Station, Heather’s music was showcased for film directors at the Female Eye Film Festival, and again at the TIFF Filmmaker Music Series. She continues to look to find homes for her songs!
Heather took a risk to dismantle everything she built and start over. But she stands by the credo, “do what you love and the rest will follow.”